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How To Use A Semicolon – The Ultimate Guide [2019]
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How To Use A Semicolon – The Ultimate Guide [2019]

What is Semicolon?

The semicolon (;) indicates a pause greater than the one marked by the comma and less than the one indicated by the period.

There are others, such as question marks (?), Colon (:), exclamation marks (!), And so on. They all operate on the same basis and exist to make writing a much richer and more precise language. Another very common punctuation mark is the ellipsis; these have multiple uses that you can know in greater detail in the post where the correct use of the ellipsis is explained. Here we will focus only on the three main ones: the semicolon, the semicolon.

A simile that I love to explain the difference between these three elements is musical language. The comma would be equivalent to an eighth note, which is equivalent to half time, the semicolon would be equivalent to a black one since it is equivalent to one time while the point would be a white one, which is equivalent to two times.

How to Use a Semicolon?

Semicolon in compound sentences or complex enumerations. In general, to separate the elements of an enumeration when it comes to complex expressions that include commas. It is tremendously useful when making detailed descriptions.

For example:

  • The jacket is blue; the pants, gray; the White shirt; and the coat, black.

Another use is to separate syntactically independent sentences between which there is a close semantic relationship:

It was necessary for the hospital to remain open all night; We had to take turns.

Everyone home; there is nothing more to do.

How to Use a Semicolon in Different Aspects:

Usage Orientation 1

To separate the basics of an enumeration when it comes to complex expressions that include commas.

Examples

  • The jacket is blue; the pants, gray; the White shirt; and the coat, black. 
  • Each of the working groups will prepare a workshop: the first group, the pottery workshop; the second, the loom shop; the third, the basketry workshop.

Usage Orientation 2

To separate juxtaposed propositions, especially when the comma uses in these.

In many of these cases, you could choose to separate periods with a period and followed. The choice of the semicolon or the semicolon depends on the semantic link between the sentences or propositions. If the link is weak, it is preferred to use a semicolon; while, if it is more solid, it is convenient to opt for the semicolon.

It would also be possible to separate the periods above with two points since they almost always underlie the same relationships expressed. (Let us not forget that the two points are used to connect sentences or related statements without the need to use another link).

Examples

  • It was necessary for the hospital to remain open all night; We had to take turns.  
  • The girl enjoyed, ran to her house; His parents had just arrived. 
  • The economic situation of the company, aggravated in recent times, was worrying; a fast and forceful action was imposed, if one wanted to save the jobs.  
  • At five in the morning there was still light in the room; surely, he had fallen asleep reading.

Usage Orientation 3

Links like this is, that is, that is, finally, finally, therefore, however, however, in addition, in that case, therefore, instead, first, and also, sometimes, Certain adverbs or phrases that perform the function of sentence modifiers, as generally, perhaps, possibly, effectively, finally, ultimately, as a rule, placed at the beginning of a sentence, are separated from the rest by a comma.

A semicolon, instead of a comma, is usually placed in front of conjunctions or conjunctive locutions such as but, more, and, although, as well as, however, therefore, in short, etc., when the periods have a certain length and lead the proposition they affect.

Examples

  • His speech was very well built and grounded on solid principles, but he failed to convince many of the participants in the Congress.
  • The players trained intensely throughout the month; However, the results were not what the coach expected.
  • The latest evidence that has come from the printing press seems very clean; therefore, I think it will not take long to review and return them.

Usage Orientation 4

If the blocks are not very long, the comma is preferred.

Examples

  • It will come, but late.
  • He did, though reluctantly.

Usage Orientation 5

Likewise, if the periods have a considerable length, it is better to separate them with a period and followed.

Examples

  • This summer, several neighbors of the property plan to sell their respective homes. Therefore, numerous visits from prospective buyers are foreseeable.

How to use semicolon for Applications?

The semicolon is used to separate sentences from a period when commas have already used in their midst.

Examples

  • They went to dinner: Marcos, the dad; Marcela, the mother; Juan, the brother; Sofia, the cousin; Sandra, the sister; and Cristina, the girlfriend. They all understand each other very well.
  • The shirt was white; the pants, blue; the shoes, black; the belt, coffee; the Red socks; the tie, yellow; and the hat, green. He dressed like that because he was a clown.
  • At the meeting, they met: Mauricio Gómez, the delegate of the Assembly; Juanita Pérez, the Minister of Education; Pablo Rincon, the municipal personal; Martha Díaz, the secretary-general; and Mateo Gonzalez, the national registrar.

How to use a semicolon in Sentences?

The semicolon is used to separate syntactically (orderly, structurally) independent sentences, among which there is a close semantic relationship (of meaning), for example, of cause and effect or fact and consequence (Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of doubts, 2005), as well as, in the middle of those sentences in which the second explains, expands, justifies and clarifies, the first.

Examples

  • The show had to be suspended; they returned the money to all people.
  • It was necessary to remove all people from the place; It was no longer possible to do something for them.
  • Everyone left for their homes; People felt cheated.
  • They were very sad at the airport; the flight was canceled.
  • They were very happy at all times; They were just married.

How to use Semicolon in Conjunctions?

A semicolon is written before the adversary, concessional or consecutive connectors, such as: but, more, though, however, therefore, therefore, that is, therefore …, when the sentences that begin have a certain length.

Examples

  • The championship had to be canceled due to the excess rainfall in the area where it was going to take place; therefore, the competition was postponed until summer arrives.
  • Most of the guests enjoyed the party all night; however, there were some who left early.
  • It has always been said that he is a very busy person and that he does not take time, but, for his work; that is, he forgets that he also has a family.
  • He will call, but I don’t know when.
  • I want to eat, although I don’t know what.
  • This rest period has been very long since we went on vacation. Therefore, I will go on a trip, again, to that dream country: France.
  • There have been many days that it has rained since winter began. But I think the hot days will be stronger when summer comes.

How to use a semicolon in Noun?

The semicolon is used at the end of each of the statements in a list or relationship, when they are written in independent lines and each of them begins to be written in lowercase, except the last one, which would end in a period.

Examples

To make the drawing, they must bring:

  • pencils of all colors;
  • pencil sharpener;
  • cardboard paper;
  • scissors;
  • pencils;
  • draft;
  • pens;
  • paintings;
  • watercolors

Origin and Invention

The first documented semicolon in history belongs to the Italian printer Aldo Manutius, and dates from 1494. Manutius popularized the use of semicolons to separate words of opposite meaning. The trajectory of the semicolon has not always been a path of roses.

Since, for example, the famous writer George Orwell refused to use it. In modern times, it is often used to join related clauses. The first English writer who used the semicolon in all his work was Ben Jonson; and among many others, the American E.E. Cummings

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